Bowling will save democracy and other insights from the theory of social capital

Robert Putnam has developed the concept of social capital:

Putnam’s celebrity lies in his work on “social capital”, a theory of civic renewal that has made him irresistible to politicians around the world. In one neat phrase, it addresses all the social and political problems of the postmodern age – from voter apathy to collapsing communities.

While it was the sociologist James Coleman who invented the term, it is Putnam who has packaged and developed the theory. Social capital, according to Putnam, means “features of social life – networks, norms, and trust – that enable participants to act together more effectively to pursue shared objectives”. It is the elixir that thickens civil society, creating strong reciprocal relationships and energetic communities. The best indicator and generator of social capital is involvement in a voluntary association – a choir, a political party, or a football league.


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